WASHINGTON - Toyota Motor Corp. announced the recall Wednesday of 50,000 Sequoia sport utility vehicles in the United States and Canada to fix an unexpected slowing of the vehicle in the latest safety problem to hit the Japanese automaker.

Toyota said the recall of certain 2003 models would address the vehicle's electronic stability control system, which helps maintain traction during turning.

In some cases, the stability control in vehicles could active at low speed and prevent the SUV from accelerating as quickly as the driver expects, the company said.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had been investigating the issue and Toyota said it decided to recall the vehicles to address the government's concerns.

The automaker said it had no reports of accidents or injuries connected to the issue and about half of the vehicles had already been repaired under warranty.

About 1,500 of the vehicles are being recalled in Canada.

"Toyota is voluntarily launching this recall as part of our commitment to investigating customer complaints more aggressively and to responding quickly to issues we identify in our vehicles," Toyota Canada Inc. said in a news release.

All affected customers will be notified of the recall by first-class mail at the end of May, it said.

Toyota has recalled more than eight million vehicles worldwide - including more than 270,000 in Canada - since October because of acceleration problems in multiple models and braking issues in the Prius hybrid. The company recently agreed to pay a record US$16.4-million fine to the U.S. government for a slow response to problems with sticking gas pedals.

In the Sequoia case, Toyota said it issued a production change during the 2003 model year to address the stability control problem and published a technical service bulletin to dealers in fall 2003.

Owners who have complained about the problem since then have had the skid control engine control unit replaced by dealers and the company said about half have been repaired under warranty.

Toyota said owners who paid to have the work done will be reimbursed.

NHTSA spokeswoman Julia Piscitelli said Toyota was "co-operating with NHTSA's request to issue a safety recall" of the 2003 Sequoia. During the past 1½ years, she said NHTSA and Toyota have received 163 complaints about the problem.

The company said owners who paid for the fix should mail a copy of their repair order to the company's U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif., for reimbursement consideration.

-With files from The Canadian Press